LPGA Announces 2003 Schedule

By Lpga Tour MediaNovember 20, 2003, 5:00 pm
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Commissioner Ty M. Votaw today announced a 2004 LPGA Tour schedule that will feature 33 events with total prize money in excess of $42 million. Votaw made the announcement during a press conference at the season-ending ADT Championship in West Palm Beach.
 
The LPGA Tour is enjoying one of the most prosperous times and robust fan bases in LPGA history, stated Votaw. Attendance, viewership and LPGA.com traffic are up, and our sponsors are responding with sizable purse increases. Our players are competing for more money than ever before week-in and week-out as a result of the tremendous support and commitment from our tournament sponsors.
 
We are extremely pleased with the strength of the 2004 schedule. All official money events from 2003 will return in 2004, many with significant purse increases, and with a new event in Nashville, we are poised for an very successful tournament season. We look forward to continuing to showcase the very best in womens golf in markets worldwide.

 
Highlights of the 2004 schedule include:
-33 events, including 24 full-field events, eight limited-field events and one unofficial money event;
-Full-field purses are expected to be at least $31.4 million, a $2.4 million increase from 2003;
-Players are expected to compete for an average of $1,308,000 per full-field official money event, the highest-ever average.
-The LPGA returns to the Nashville, Tenn., area with the Franklin American Mortgage Championship Benefiting Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital hosted by Amy Grant and Vince Gill.
-The Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill will offer a $2.2 million purse, $600,000 more than in 2003 and representing the highest LPGA purse besides the U.S. Womens Open.
-The Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury in New Rochelle, N.Y., will offer a $1.25 million purse, $300,000 more than in 2003.
-The Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott will offer a $1.75 million purse, an increase of $250,000 from 2003.
-In addition to the Safeway Classic Presented by Pepsi in Portland, Ore., Safeway has expanded its involvement with the LPGA by taking over the full sponsorship of a second LPGA event, the Safeway International presented by Coca-Cola, in Phoenix. The Safeway International purse will increase by $200,000 from 2003. Each Safeway-sponsored LPGA event will feature a $1.2 million purse.
-The LPGAs Toledo, Ohio, stop welcomes the addition of Owens Corning to the LPGA title sponsor family with the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger, featuring a $1.1 million purse, $100,000 more than 2003.
-The Wegmans Rochester LPGA Presented by Lincoln Mercury increased its purse by $100,000 ($1.3 million), and the Samsung World Championship, a limited-field event, increased its purse by $25,000 ($825,000).
-There will be 24 full-field events, up from 23 in 2003.
 
The television schedule for 2004 will be released after the first of the year, and coverage is expected to remain consistent with past years. In 2003, 30 of 34 events were televised, including this weeks ADT Championship, representing more than 260 hours of coverage in the United States.
 
The purses, dates and sites for the LPGAs four majors are: the Kraft Nabisco Championship, $1.6 million, March 25-28, at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.; the McDonalds LPGA Championship, $1.6 million, June 10-13, at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del.; the U.S. Womens Open conducted by the USGA, $3.1 million, July 1-4, at The Orchards in South Hadley, Mass.; and the Weetabix Womens British Open, $1.6 million, July 29-Aug. 1, at Sunningdale Golf Club in Sunningdale, Berkshire, England.
 
LPGA Schedule   March 11-14Welchs/Frys Championship            $  800,000 Randolph North Golf Complex, Dell Urich Golf Course, Tucson, AZ  March 18-21Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola1,200,000 Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, Superstition, AZ  March 25-28Kraft Nabisco Championship1,600,000 Mission Hills Country Club, Rancho Mirage, CA  April 2-4Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott1,750,000 El Caballero Country Club, Tarzana, CA  April 15-17LPGA Takefuji Classic1,100,000 The Las Vegas Country Club, Las Vegas, NV  April 29-May 2Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy LopezTBD Eagles Landing Country Club, Stockbridge, GA  May 6-9Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill2,200,000 Kingsmill Resort & Spa, Williamsburg, VA  May 13-16Franklin American Mortgage Championship 900,000 benefiting Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, TN  May 20-23Sybase Classic Presented by Lincoln Mercury1,250,000 Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY  May 27-30LPGA Corning Classic1,000,000 Corning Country Club, Corning, NY  June 4-6Kellogg - Keebler Classic1,200,000 Stonebridge Country Club, Aurora, IL  June 10-13McDonalds LPGA Championship 1,600,000Dupont Country Club, Wilmington, DE  June 18-20ShopRite LPGA ClassicTBD Marriott Seaview Resort & Spa (Bay Course), Galloway Twp., NJ  June 24-27Wegmans Rochester LPGA Presented by Lincoln Mercury 1,300,000 Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, NY  July 1-4U. S. Womens Open conducted by the USGA3,100,000 Orchards Golf Club, South Hadley, MA  July 8-11BMO Financial Group Canadian Womens Open1,300,000 Legends on the Niagra, Niagra Falls, Ontario  July 16-18Giant Eagle LPGA Classic$1,000,000Squaw Creek Country Club, Vienna, OH  July 21-24Evian Masters2,100,000Evian Masters Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France  July 29-Aug 1Weetabix Womens British Open1,600,000Sunningdale Golf Club, Berkshire, England  Aug 5-8Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger1,100,000 Highland Meadows Golf Club, Sylvania, OH  Aug 20-22Wendys Championship for Children 1,100,000Tartan Fields Golf Club, Dublin, OH  Aug 26-29Wachovia LPGA Classic Hosted by Betsy King1,200,000Berkleigh Country Club, Kutztown, PA  Sept 2-5State Farm Classic1,200,000The Rail Golf Course, Springfield, IL  Sept 10-12John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic1,000,000Cedar Ridge Country Club, Tulsa, OK  Sept 17-19Safeway Classic Presented by Pepsi1,200,000Columbia Edgewater Country Club, Portland, OR  Sept 23-26Longs Drugs Challenge1,000,000TBA, Sacramento, CA  Oct 7-10Asahi Ryokuken International Championship at Mount Vintage 1,000,000Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club, North Augusta, SC  Oct 14-17Samsung World Championship 825,000The Players Course at The Woodlands, Woodlands, TX  TBDSports Today Classic1,500,000TBD, S. Korea  Nov 5-7TBATBA Nov 11-14LPGA Tournament of Champions 750,000Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, TBD, AL  Nov 18-21ADT Championship1,000,000Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach, FL  Dec 18-19Wendys Three Tour Challenge850,000Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, NV
Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.

Getty Images

Tour's Integrity Program raises gambling questions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 17, 2018, 7:00 pm

The video begins with an eye-opening disclaimer: “Sport betting markets produce revenues of $1 trillion each year.”

For all the seemingly elementary elements of the 15-minute video PGA Tour players have been required to watch as part of the circuit’s newly created Integrity Program, it’s the enormity of the industry – $1 trillion annually – that concerns officials.

There are no glaring examples of how sport betting has impacted golf, no red flags that sent Tour officials into damage control; just a realization that with that kind of money it’s best to be proactive.

“It's important that in that world, you can operate not understanding what's happening week in and week out, or you can assume that all of our players and everybody in our ecosystem understands that that's not an acceptable activity, or you can just be proactive and clarify and educate,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan explained earlier this month. “That's what we have attempted to do not with just the video, but with all of our communication with our players and will continue to do that.”

But if clarification is the goal, a copy of the training video obtained by GolfChannel.com paints a different picture.



Although the essence of the policy is straightforward – “prohibit players from betting on professional golf” – the primary concern, at least if the training video is any indication, is on match fixing; and warns players to avoid divulging what is considered “inside information.”

“I thought the questions were laughable. They were all like first-grade-level questions,” Chez Reavie said. “I would like to think everyone out here already knows the answer to those questions. But the Tour has to protect themselves.”

Monahan explained that the creation of the integrity policy was not in reaction to a specific incident and every player asked last week at the Sony Open said they had never encountered any type of match fixing.

“No, not at all,” Reavie said. “I have friends who will text me from home after a round, ‘Oh, I bet on you playing so-and-so.’ But I make it clear I don’t want to know. I don’t gamble like that. No one has ever approached me about losing a match.”

It was a common answer, but the majority of the video focuses on how players can avoid being placed in a compromising situation that could lead to match fixing. It should be noted that gamblers can place wagers on head-to-head matchups, provided by betting outlets, during stroke-play rounds of tournaments – not just in match-play competitions.

Part of the training video included questions players must answer to avoid violating the policy. An example of this was how a player should respond when asked, “Hello, buddy! Well played today. I was following your progress. I noticed your partner pulled out of his approach on 18, looked like his back. Is he okay for tomorrow?”

The correct answer from a list of options was, “I don’t know, sorry. I’m sure he will get it looked at if it’s bothering him.”

You get the idea, but for some players the training created more questions.

How, for example, should a player respond when asked how he’s feeling by a fan?

“The part I don’t understand, let’s say a member of your club comes out and watches you on the range hitting balls, he knows you’re struggling, and he bets against you. Somehow, some way that could come back to you, according to what I saw on that video,” said one player who asked not to be identified.

Exactly what constitutes a violation is still unclear for some who took the training, which was even more concerning considering the penalties for a violation of the policy.

The first violation is a warning and a second infraction will require the player to retake the training program, but a third violation is a fine “up to $500,000” or “the amount illegally received from the betting activity.” A sixth violation is a lifetime ban from the Tour.

Players are advised to be mindful of what they post on social media and to “refrain from talking about odds or betting activity.” The latter could be an issue considering how often players discuss betting on other sports.

Just last week at the Sony Open, Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas had a “friendly” wager on the College Football Playoff National Championship. Kisner, a Georgia fan, lost the wager and had to wear an Alabama football jersey while playing the 17th hole last Thursday.

“If I'd have got the points, he'd have been wearing [the jersey], and I was lobbying for the points the whole week, and he didn't give them to me,” Kisner said. “So I'm still not sure about this bet.”

It’s unclear to some if Kisner’s remark, which was a joke and didn’t have anything to do with golf, would be considered a violation. From a common sense standpoint, Kisner did nothing wrong, but the uncertainty is an issue.

Much like drug testing, which the Tour introduced in 2008, few, if any, think sport betting is an issue in golf; but also like the anti-doping program, there appears to be the danger of an inadvertent and entirely innocent violation.

The Tour is trying to be proactive and the circuit has a trillion reasons to get out in front of what could become an issue, but if the initial reaction to the training video is any indication they may want to try a second take.

Getty Images

Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.